Objective: The role of the consultation in mediating improved clinical outcomes has been demonstrated in both conventional and complementary medicine but to date no depth study has explored how complementary medical consultations achieve such benefits. This study explored rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients' perceptions of the homeopathic consultation including any perceived benefit.
Methods: Qualitative study nested within a placebo-controlled multi-centre trial assessing adjunctive homeopathic intervention for RA. In-depth face to face interviews (with 16 participants) were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Results: RA participants perceived homeopathic consultations helped them cope better through either enabling improved physical health, wellbeing and/or illness management. Four themes associated with improved coping were: receiving emotional support; exploring the illness; exploring self; and gaining advice. Exploring the wider narrative of their illness, enabled participants to address their individual needs and for some, this process of increased awareness changed their perception resulting in the perceived benefits.
Conclusion: Homeopathic consultations enable RA patient to cope better.
Practice implications: Homeopathic consultations may provide an additional resource for RA patients. Identifying and employing the "active ingredients" that confer benefit may be appropriate for other clinicians to maximise patient benefits from consultations.
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